A first of its kind, the German Federal Parliament awarded its International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS) to highly-motivated, capable and talented young individuals from Namibia, South Africa and Botswana.
One of the alumni, Dr Matuikuani Nicolene Dax, said Namibia is hardly represented on international platforms, and young Namibians must start engaging in international programmes.
“The IPS program has been in existence for over 50 years – and yet, this is the first time that it has been made available to Southern Africa. Namibians stand a very good advantage, as we are one of a few countries in the world that has a large number of German speakers – both native and foreign,” she stated.
Dax added: “Young Namibians need to realise that we are all collectively affected by politics no matter the field/discipline we find ourselves in. Therefore, the onus is on us to show an active interest in political matters. The IPS program gives one insight into international politics and democracy. If you are an open-minded, politically-engaged young adult, who is fluent in German, then this programme is the right fit for you.”
Dax said it is a pre-requisite to be active in civil society for one to join the programme. “I am involved with two NGOs: The Big Help Namibia and GOSHEN. I serve as the health consultant for the planned ||Am-Os community health centre for GOSHEN, which is a Christian Community Development Organisation,” informed Dax.
The Big Help Namibia is a local NGO, centred on helping communities achieve the SDGs, early childhood development and teenage mentorship.
She said, being able to plough back into these organisations the skills she has learnt from the IPS program has made it a worthwhile experience.
“It is easy to translate what one has learnt from the program into English and apply the knowledge, so one should not see the language medium as a barrier,” she encouraged.
Another alumni, Isdor Kamati, said through the programme, he now better understands the German Federal Parliamentary system and how it relates to Namibia.
“I also learnt and understand the importance of civil society organisations with a special emphasis on activism in the political sphere. I learnt of the role and impact of the media on local politics as well as the importance of democratic values and political tolerance,” he reflected.
Kamati said: “The scholarship exposes one to a whole different parliamentary system, helps one better understand the bilateral relations between Namibia and Germany – and most importantly, it gives one a deeper understanding of cultural diversity in the world.”
He added that after the programme, one becomes a part of the IPS Alumni association and continues to work closely with the German Federal Parliament as well as partners of the IPS programme.
The Germany Embassy in Windhoek’s spokesperson Eva Borkner said the programme is for politically engaging young graduates from Namibia, South Africa and Botswana – it and was introduced in 2020.
“The mission of the scholarship is to give the first-hand experience of the German parliamentary system and political decision-making processes to graduates who want to play an active role in promoting core democratic values in their home country,” said Borkner.
Applicants need to have citizenship of one of these countries, have a very good knowledge of German, hold a university degree and be under the age of 30 at the start of the scholarship. They should also be interested in politics and be socially or politically committed.